Thursday, May 03, 2018


A lot of people have chosen to champion the cause of blocking the approved Kinder Morgan oil pipeline from Alberta to BC. I have some thoughts.

To these people - your heart is in the right place. I get it. Pipelines are risky. They have the potential to cause significant, sometimes irreversible damage to the environment. Oil tanker ships aren't much better. Neither are rail cars full of oil. Incidentally, rail cars full of oil is more of what will likely be passing through BC if the pipelines don't get built. I'm mentioning that fact because some folks have convinced themselves that if the oil pipeline is successfully blocked, it's problem solved. Nope. The oil will still get to the west coast, just via other means, and it will most definitely be via rail.

One problem I have with this stance though, is that unlike Northern Gateway, which would have built a risky pipeline in virgin territory, Kinder Morgan's project expands on what is already there. It's like protesting the adding of a lane on a freeway. It's a little bit redundant. And, as I mentioned previously, it's a bit like insisting that the extra lane shouldn't be built, and thinking that the added traffic won't go somewhere else, if you follow my analogy.

In my humble opinion, you're protesting the wrong thing. You shouldn't be protesting pipelines. You need to address the source of the problem. The source is the world's reliance, and most especially our own reliance, on fossil fuel. They are building a pipeline because people still want to buy our oil. People still want our oil because they still haven't weaned themselves off of it for making plastics, gasoline, heating oil, diesel, and all the other things we make from oil.

I personally believe that the best way to stop new pipelines from being built is to cure the world's need for oil. Starting with ourselves. Alberta has a carbon tax, but we don't (unlike other jurisdictions) offer any incentive to buy electric cars. Nor do we insist that new homes get built to a higher R rating, to use less (or even no) fuel to heat our homes. I could go on.

So if you really want to make a difference, start putting your focus on the source of the demand for the oil in the first place. Going back to my analogy, don't protest the extra lanes in the freeway. Insist that more people take the bus or train.

No comments: